Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time when a story suddenly unfolds right before you.
That is what happened Oct. 10, after I had a disappointing experience at city hall. I was denied rightful, routine access to view the financial disclosures of candidates for the 2014 civic election by the deputy city clerk. I was also denied my rightful, routine access to see a list of people who signed up to run for office on the deadline day by the city clerk, who doubles as the chief electoral officer. I had timed my trip to city hall to coincide with the 4 p.m. deadline. (The full list was issued as a news release before 11 p.m. that night. On Oct. 14, I returned to the city clerk’s office, demanded and got access to the financial disclosures.)
I returned to my car, which was parked on Yukon Street, and proceeded to call candidates of new parties to learn about their experiences in registering to run. While asking Vancouver 1st leader and city council candidate Jesse Johl some questions, a man and a woman carrying a large Vision Vancouver campaign sign bearing the image of Mayor Gregor Robertson marched up the street. They planted it on the lawn beside city hall, where political campaign signs aren’t allowed to be. They didn’t do a good job. As they walked away, it fell flat with a thud.
As they crossed the street, they noticed me with my iPad and weren’t pleased. I said I was a journalist in public, so I was within my right to capture the images. I asked what they were doing. The woman named Victoria (who didn’t give her last name, for fear of retribution), proceeded to tell me that the sign was placed without their permission on the lawn of the area house they rent.
“Somebody came to my door a few nights ago asking me how I was voting, and they were from the Vision campaign,” she said. “I told them i was not voting for Gregor because I was concerned about housing affordability in the city. They took down a note. Then today I came home, two days later, to find this giant Vision sign on my front lawn, which I didn’t authorize, I didn’t ask for.”
Victoria said she called Vision Vancouver to complain, but got an answering machine. So they took matters into their own hands. Literally.
“I don’t want to be misrepresented in this election, I don’t want false advertising on my lawn,” she said.
Two men in a white Honda minivan, one of which is believed to be Vision Vancouver campaign worker Duncan Wlodarczak, showed up about a half-hour later and carted the sign away. They may have been alerted by city hall security, whose office is in the east side of the building on the main floor near where the sign incident happened.
So that is the story behind the video. Don’t forget to send a sign to your city hall: vote on Nov. 15. Because of the four-year terms, you won’t get another chance to choose your mayor and councillors until 2018.
As an aside, do you notice how the sign says Vision four times, but Vancouver only once, and it is in the smallest type size on the sign? Yes, it’s pretty obvious that it’s about a Vancouver political party, but why not show the name of the city in a bigger, bolder, prouder type size? Does it say something about the party with a $2.2 million corporate and union-funded war chest that wants to dominate Vancouver for another four years? And how about all that petroleum-based plastic and paint and fresh-looking lumber used to make the signs for the party that says it wants to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020?
Do you have any political sign woes you want to share? Photos or videos of all types of political sign shenanigans, stupidity and silliness are welcome. Contact me at bob (at) bobmackin (dot) ca